• US fliers may be able to request full-cash refund if their flight is canceled, under a new bill.
  • The proposal, titled Cash Refunds for Flight Cancellations, is in response to travel chaos. 
  • Many airlines currently offer to rebook delayed customers or provide vouchers as a default. 

After a summer of flight chaos and cancellations Democratic senators want to give US travelers more control over how they're compensated by airlines. 

Under a proposed bill — named Cash Refunds for Flight Cancellations — airlines would be required to offer customers a full cash refund within 30 days if their flight is canceled or significantly delayed less than 48 hours before departure, per the release published by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat on August 1.

Under current federal and Department of Transportation rules fliers are entitled to a refund if their flight is canceled. However many airlines instead offer to rebook or provide vouchers as a default. The bill would require them to offer refunds in cash. 

The bill comes in response to the thousands of flights that have been canceled or delayed this summer as the aviation industry battles with labor shortages amid a resurgence of travel demand post-pandemic.

More than 88,000 flights have been canceled in the US so far this year, according to figures from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, with travellers sharing stories of long-queues, lost bags, broken wheelchairs, and misplaced pets

"It's bad enough to miss out on vacation time when your flight gets canceled or an emergency pops up. You shouldn't also have to fight tooth and nail with an airline for your legally required cash refund," Whitehouse said in the release.

Senators Ed Markey, Richard Blumenthal and Elizabeth Warren, along with Representatives Steve Cohen, Chuy Garcia and Jamie Raskin are the other Democrats involved in the proposals. 

The proposal also argues that passengers should be able to retroactively request refunds for flights from March 1, 2020 if they have not yet used their compensation, or been offered an alternative.  

The bill would also require ticket agents to inform fliers of their rights at the time of purchase and let customers who cancel their flight 48 hours before departure request a cash refund. Airlines who fail to offer refunds within 30 days could be fined $1,000, under the proposals. 

Last week, Warren along with Senator Alex Padilla wrote to transport chiefs, urging them to take greater responsibility for how the flight delays impacted customers. The letter, reported by Insider's Kate Duffy, said that the Department of Transport could issue airlines with fines of up to $37,377 per violation

The bill will was introduced on July 28th, per the official congressional website.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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